The impending arrival of your child’s birthday may make you feel elated or filled with dread. The prospect of throwing the perfect kids’ party can seem daunting for sure, but with planning, forethought and attention to detail, you can avoid the common pitfalls that parents often experience at least once in their lives: the epic party fail. Throwing a successful kids’ party means being prepared, planning for every eventuality, and balancing it all with ease.
Find Out About Allergies
A good time to find out who has allergies–whether to peanuts, gluten or eggs–is at the time of RSVP. Ask if your child’s friend has a food allergy, what it is, what he can safely have and what he can’t. Another time to ask this question or follow up from the previous question is at drop-off. If the child has a severe allergy and needs an epinephrine injector, ask that the parent bring that along, and more importantly, show you how to use it. It may be relatively easy to avoid peanuts or tree nuts in the foods you serve, but what about when a child has an allergy to gluten, wheat or some other crucial ingredient in the cake and other snacks you’re serving? The parent may already be planning for this, and can offer to bring a special approved snack for the child (or you can suggest this). If not, ask about alternatives you can serve the child such as rice cakes with dip, marshmallows, gumdrops, and even custom-ordered gluten-free cakes and pies, suggests WebMD.
You may have been planning your little one’s party all year long, with plenty of games and activities planned for the big day. This could be a mistake, especially if you have younger kids. Small children have notoriously short attention spans and expecting them to tackle a treasure hunt, pin the tail on the donkey, sack races, and a pinata all within an hour will just burn them out. Schedule a couple of games to keep it interesting but give them plenty of free time to explore.
There’s nothing worse at a kids’ party when all the snacks and juice boxes have run dry and everyone is looking at you to come up with a solution. No time to run to the store — you must do this beforehand. Even if you think you have enough, go a bit further and buy extra. You can always store supplies like chips, pretzels and water bottles for a later occasion. Speaking of water bottles, buy plenty of those small plastic ones and invest in a good permanent marker so kids can write their names or initials. This ensures you don’t end up with half-empty water bottles lying around that kids abandoned because they forget whose was whose.
Don’t Cry Over Stains
The inevitable stain will occur to your beautiful rugs at least once during a kids’ party. Don’t panic when someone drops fruit punch. Good Housekeeping recommends mixing a tablespoon of liquid hand dishwash soap with a tablespoon of white vinegar, along with two cups warm water. Blot the stain with a white cloth using the homemade solution before letting it sit for a half hour, blotting every few minutes or so. Blot with the cloth to get the excess moisture out, and then blot it with rubbing alcohol, followed up with a cold water sponging.
Stock Up On Party Favors
Sure, a goodie bag filled with pencils, candy, a temporary tattoo and bouncy ball may not sound like much to you, but to kids, it’s the Holy Grail of the birthday party scene. Avoid that awkward moment when the last few kids out the door have no bags to grab. Buy more party favors than you think you’ll need because inevitably, someone’s brother, sister, cousin, or friend will show up uninvited. Have plenty of goodie bags on hand for a seamless ending to the perfect day.
This article was written together with Ashlyn Cooper, a mommy blogger. Ashlyn loves the time of year when she gets to host birthday parties. She really stresses having extra party favors, any leftovers can be sent home with the kids who have brothers and sisters who didn’t come.